Catholic Bishop: Sen. Durbin ‘Not Permitted to Receive Holy Communion’

Michael W. Chapman | April 4, 2014 | 6:30pm EDT
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Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)(AP Photo)

( --  Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) is “not permitted to receive Holy Communion” under the law of the Catholic Church, according to Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki, who heads the diocese of Springfield, Ill., which is Durbin’s home city.

Bishop Paprocki affirmed this point concerning Durbin, who supports abortion, in a post at the blog Renew America by Matt C. Abbott on April 3 and confirmed it separately to on April 4.

The bishop, in a recent letter to an Illinois pro-life activist, said, “Senator Durbin was informed several years ago by his Pastor at Blessed Sacrament Parish here in Springfield that he was not permitted to receive Holy Communion per canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law. My predecessor upheld that decision and it remains in effect. It is my understanding that the Senator is complying with that decision here in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois.”

The pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish at the time Durbin was told not to present himself for Communion was Rev. Kevin Vann, now the bishop for the diocese of Orange, Calif.

Bishop Thomas John Paprocki, head of the Catholic diocese in Springfield, Ill. (AP)

In a 2004 article, Rev. Vann said, “I respect Senator Durbin. I’ve known him for many years. I know he works hard in many fields. But his pro-choice position puts him really outside of communion or unity with the church’s teaching on life. And that’s why I would be reticent to give him Holy Communion.”

Early in his political career, Durbin was pro-life. But in 1989, several years before he ran for the U.S. Senate in 1996, he changed his position. Since then he has supported pro-abortion laws.  Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America give Durbin a 100% rating while the National Right to Life Committee gives him a 0% rating.

On Jan. 23, 2014, Durbin, the Senate Majority Whip, was honored with a “Lifetime Achievement Award” by Planned Parenthood Illinois Action at a Roe vs. Wade celebration in Chicago.

Canon Law is the law utilized to govern the Catholic Church.  Canon 915 states, “Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.”

In Durbin’s case, the “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin” apparently refers to his longstanding support for abortion laws. It is contrary to Catholic teaching to support abortion.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states,  “Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law: You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish. (2271).”

Human baby in the womb. (AP)

In addition, the Vatican’s Declaration on Procured Abortion states: "It must in any case be clearly understood that whatever may be laid down by civil law in this matter, man can never obey a law which is in itself immoral, and such is the case of a law which would admit in principle the liceity of abortion. Nor can he take part in a propaganda campaign in favor of such a law, or vote for it. Moreover, he may not collaborate in its application. It is, for instance, inadmissible that doctors or nurses should find themselves obliged to cooperate closely in abortions and have to choose between the law of God and their professional situation.” contacted Sen. Durbin’s office by e-mail and telephone for comment but his office did not respond.

In the 2004 article, in the State Journal-Register, Durbin said that if any woman in his family approached him about an abortion, he would do everything he could to advise against it, “but I really believe that government prohibition of that procedure can be very unfair and unjust in some circumstances.”

As for the Church denying Communion to politicians who support abortion, Durbin said, “Is that all this Church is about, is one issue? For bishops to announce that they are going to penalize Catholics on certain votes I think is … reaching too far.”

In addition to disagreeing with his own Church on abortion, Durbin added, “I, for one, believe that women should be allowed to be priests.” He also said he thinks priests should be allowed to marry.

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